These long beans are wilting fast in my fridge drawer, so I decided to chop them up finely to cook meatless cabbage rice that is rather vaguely adapted from this recipe. The cooking method is very similar, but the ingredients varied a lot. I cooked with napa cabbage instead of the Taiwanese cabbage that is traditionally used for this popular Hokkien one-pot-meal. Long beans, on the other hand, are not usually required for this dish.
Another great challenge lies in my choice to omit dried shrimps and dried scallops to turn this dish suitable for vegetarians. Whatever umami that is lost from dried shrimp and dried scallops, I tried to compensate with more dried shitake mushrooms. I also added my favorite vegetarian XO/BBQ sauce. To me, this is the closest I can get to imitate the fragrance of dried scallops and shrimps. Lastly, I topped the rice with some preserved olive vegetables (橄榄菜) before adding water to cook, and now I don’t know whether my cabbage rice is anything close to the original cabbage rice. I don’t really think so, but after all my adaptations, this is certainly still tasty!
What other ingredients do you use to add umami to your vegetarian cooking?
VEGETARIAN CABBAGE RICE
vaguely adapted from & inspired by here 2 rice cups jasmine rice, rinsed and drained 15 small dried shiitake mushrooms ** 2 tablespoon cooking oil 2 large cloves garlic, minced *** 5 leaves of napa cabbage, sliced 5 strings of long beans, chopped finely 1/2 teaspoon vegetarian XO/BBQ sauce 1 heaping teaspoon of preserved olive vegetables 1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce
** Rehydrate dried shiitake mushrooms in 1.5 rice cups of room temperature water for about 2 hours. Reserve the water used to soak the mushrooms, these are full of flavor and great for cooking. Sieve this liquid before using to get rid of dust and particles. Slice the mushrooms and set aside.
*** Can be replaced with a knob of ginger, julienned.
I cooked and served this in a 22cm Le Creuset Marmite Pot. This can also be cooked in a rice cooker, after stir frying everything in a wok first.
In a heated pot/wok, add cooking oil, and add minced garlic/julienned ginger and fry till aromatic/golden brown.
Quickly add sliced shiitake mushrooms to bring down the oil temperature so that the garlic/ginger don’t get burnt. Stir fry to cook the mushrooms, they will become more fragrant after frying with oil.
Next, add the chopped long beans, once they are coated with oil, add 2 tablespoons of the reserved mushroom liquid to “steam-fry” the beans so that they get cooked faster. Once the liquid added gets evaporated, add vegetarian XO/BBQ sauce and preserved olive vegetables. Stir around to mix.
Add the cabbage, and stir-fry until the leaves turn soft.
Pour in all the rice and stir with a spoon to coat rice with oil/ingredients in the pot/wok.
Option 1. If cooking with a rice cooker, now is the time to transfer the rice into the rice cooker. Add mushroom liquid, light soy sauce and top up with more water enough to cook 2 cups of rice and set the cooker to cook mode.
Option 2. If cooking over the stove, measure 2 cups of water with the mushroom liquid, light soy sauce and water, add these into the pot, stir to mix well, especially at the bottom, taking care not to let any ingredients get stuck or they will be burnt, then cover with the lid to cook. Once the liquid starts to boil, turn down the fire to let it simmer, it takes the rice around 10 minutes to cook. I usually listen out for a crackling sound, a sign that the all the liquid has dried up and the bottom layer of rice is charring. Then I will turn off the fire and let the pot of rice sit undisturbed with its lid covered for another 10 minutes before serving.